pink & red

Saturday, May 31, 2008

a page from la sketch book dated 2004

Bleet's up on my desk, he's just come in from his 15 min early morning adventure out side and he's here, demanding some lovin'. Our every morning mad pats & deep purrs session. Stretchy, pulling pats on his head, face and ears, (his favourite) and he looks like a little black velvet ewok as I'm doing it and he purrs loudly, drools a bit and chirps at me if I slow down or stop.

I'm about to begin a new project (specifics of course are top secret) but the theme of the project is Valentine's, and the colours are pink and red, it's all about using contrasting patterns which I get to create (smile) and it's completely up my alley ... it's a Susan B kinda project. I dug out this page from my sketchbook for inspiration.

Pink & red, a favourite colour combination of mine. This particular sketchbook page is from back in the day when I was in the midst of a 4 year stint as a freelance designer for Brighton. An amazing Cinderella story design ride, where I could draw whatever my heart desired (within the product line of course), I could draw as much as I wanted, with no restrictions and when I'd invoice them they'd Fed Ex my cheques - unheard of (sigh). I also had two fabulous trips to Los Angeles and a Fairy Tale week long adventure in China & Taiwan (3 nights in Hong Kong holed up in a 5 star hotel, and days exploring that amazing tropical city and island - smile). I still pinch myself when I think of that trip. We were there to tour the various production facilities and traveled into mainland China to Guangdzou. When you look at the giant map of China, we traveled only a tiny distance into the countryside, but just that little taste was spectacularly beautiful, so lush and green and the culture so different from ours. It was a trip of a lifetime.

I will be forever grateful to Jerry, the president and owner of Brighton, who hired me very early on in my self employment venture and gave me such confidence in my abilities as a designer ... and not to mention Perk after Perk after Perk. I think he always believed that I'd eventually want to move to LA, he could never understand why I would want to live way up here in Nova Scotia, up in some Northern barren, pas de Fabulous hinterland (in his head anyway... as he is LA born and raised). Eventually we parted ways, mostly I think, because I wanted to stay put. I did give moving there serious consideration but ... I hate to drive - I'd never survive living in LA.

Today the only thing I have on my to do list is to work outside in the garden. I will happily push the loud sputtering red beast around, and I will pull up the zillion little tree sprouts that are coming up in very inappropriate places, I will add manure and compost to existing beds, I will plant some seeds and I'll get really dirty, I'll be achy and sore, happy and satisfied ... and tonight the rain begins.


Friday, May 30, 2008

my handsome red Noodle dog and hero ... always - Jake

there are some griefs so loud they could bring down the sky
and there are griefs so still no one knows how deep they lie

May Sarton

it's all about the birds

Thursday, May 29, 2008

small fields of forget me nots in my garden

I'm up a bit early this morning. 4:30 instead of my usual 5:00 am. Miss Dixon needed to go out. I stood in the sun porch door waiting for her and listening ... the sounds of our early morning - the steady stream of lobster boats leaving the harbour, the song birds and crows beginning to stir, and my coffee maker gurgling and sputtering in the kitchen. Another brand new day is beginning and I'm always thankful for a brand new day.

Yesterday afternoon as Winnie and I walked down the red clay cottage lane, that runs between two meadows, on our walk to the lighthouse I notice that the Bobolinks are back. The green, green meadows are dotted with yellow and purple wildflowers and these handsome black, white and yellow birds sit atop spikes of wild grass and their chatter and song, is a new sound added to our afternoon walks.

It seems all the summer birds have returned and added they're joyful spirits to our landscape. Bobolinks, the Red Winged Black Birds sit perched up on the tips of bull rushes in the marshy area, behind the grassy lane and where the peepers live. They're song much like high powered electrical wires or that hot, buzzing, heat sound of cicadas at the height of summer, the Barn Swallows who flit across pastures in giant graceful swoops (and who set up their homes in perfect little houses my friend Carol lovingly puts up around her yard each spring), Cliff Swallows who live in little perfectly round tiny caves dug into the tops of our small red clay cliffs and the Kingfishers who call out loudly as they zoom a few feet above the surface of the water like miniature fighter jets.

The bird feeders outside my kitchen window light up with the tiny bright yellow bodies of Gold Finches and the red, red feathers of Purple Finches. Daily these feeders are a flurry of Finches, Chickadees, an assortment of Sparrows, Red Polls, Red Breasted Grosbeaks, Mourning Doves, the shiny iridescent blue black bodies of Grackles and occasionally a flock of yellow Evening Grosbeaks arrive for a picnic. Regular visitors to my large yard and forest also include Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers and Hairy Woodpeckers (the larger of the two), Vireos (easily noticed because of their penchant to climb branches upside down) and the handsome and co-operative flocks of Cedar Waxwings. I've also had occasional rare visitors like my beautiful Lady Baltimore Oriole, an American Red Start and a small hunting Sharp Shinned Hawk. eek !

I want to set up another pair of feeders in my back garden, the kitchen feeders are really there for the viewing pleasure of kittens Gussie & Oliver (my inside cats). In my back garden, just at the edge of my wee forest, I like to have feeders hanging from the trees and a large dish of water (both for bathing and drinking) which I change daily as it's often used through the night by the raccoons to wash their sweet little hands. And then I will sit in the early evenings, a big glass of lemony ice tea on the arm of my chair, miniature binoculars around my neck and Miss Dixon keeping me company - in a trance like, oh so relaxing meditative, bird watching state. Big happy sigh.

Nature is truly grand and my own tangled gardens are lush and green and blooming everywhere ... I am very grateful that I am surrounded by such wonder each and every day.

the most perfect tiny flower

fancy footwork

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

hey handsome ... my favourite photo

... and two steps forward again.

I'm not sure why it is that I can't take all this back and forth and round about fancy footwork in stride. I believe I should be charting all of this on some Windows spread sheet as I'm sure a few months of data would show something conclusive. Some pattern would emerge. I'm sure that the numbers would magically spell out - chill !

La Beast on my desk (former giant mirror like thing) has been turned on, and oh what a lovely 24" beast it is. Neophobia is slipping away. Check out the resolution and colour definition on this big beautiful display. This morning I installed Creative Suite 3 (Photoshop, Illustrator & InDesign) and uploaded my photos to the new beast. The colour is just to die for. I was worried that the display was so gigantic that I'd feel like I was sitting in the front row at the movie theatre ... not so. I still am using my laptop for email, and I need a fire wire (which I need to order), and my brilliant mac guy nephew Michael, if I'm going to transfer files and such to the new beast. However, as you can see my wee lap top takes up very little space on my big teak topped desk.

Great productive day yesterday. Finished 14 thumbnails (my initial goal was 10) and my customer picked 9 - not bad! The more little sketch ideas (thumbnails) I can dream up and send to them the more they're likely to choose. That's 9 x my per frame fee (these are photo frame designs)- the kids are fed again or another month. Sigh.

I'm thinking about having some of my photos printed on watercolour paper and for sale in my little etsy shop and I began researching the proper paper yesterday. I'm thinking some of my Polaroids like this one or these Any suggestions that you might have, favourites and/or ideas always would be greatly appreciated. Also some illustration prints/small posters (surprises yet to come) - and all by end of June. You heard it hear first !

I'm having lunch out with a girlfriend today ... and then back to the big teak topped desk. Smile.

Just read back through this post. Yawn ... a bit boring ! my apologies.

two steps forward ...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

red daisy and pink magnolia blossom

What is the saying two steps forward ... three steps back. Blah ness was la theme of yesterday, even my new organized and lovely office space could not get me going. Perhaps it was my biorhythms being out of whack (sure enough ! the emotional chart's in the basement) , a hormonal weirdness or some planetary disturbance - maybe the Phoenix landing on Mars stirred up some quirky astro physicality. I'm not sure -maybe it was that weird Monday curse.

I did manage to draw 4 thumbnails but my goal was 10, 10 thumbnails plus completing another project (jewellery drawing revisions a 2 hour or so job). Thankfully, most often, these arbitrary deadlines are self imposed and not created by my customer. I always seem to be a fan of the make it difficult to accomplish - school of goal setting ... what's better than another reason to pick on yourself. Sigh.

Yesterday was very windy, warm and windy and by early evening it was overcast and I decided to throw in the towel ... somehow cloudy always lets me off the hook. If inspiration hasn't hit me by 5pm ... it's not gonna happen. Sadly a Memorial Day marathon of John & Kate + 8 was on TLC. My TV is in my bedroom ... I watched, completely glued (what's up with that ?), episode after episode of life with two sets of multiples - twins and sextuplets ... all the while eating nasty carbs and drinking aspartame (with ginger flavour & bubbles). Badness all round. So many things to give up - white stuff, artificial sweetener, and TV to name a few (my TV has been canceled as of Saturday, pas de television - no more cable which means no more channels ... a huge relief). ... but what about the summer Olympics in Beijing ?

Sigh ... yet another new leaf is being turned over as I type this.

a sunday report

Monday, May 26, 2008

more beautiful bright pink tulips

Well I'm sitting in a completely organized and tidy office space. Spent yesterday going through all the piles of stuff that had been placed in the big sunny hallway (soon to become my library space) these piles had been there since my friend MLou came for the weekend to cheer me up & to help me paint - which was exactly one month ago. Books and papers and art supplies ... now all happily reside in their special new place. I love having my things where they are supposed to be. Clutter free and organized. Smile.

I do still have to organize my project files ... BFF Harry gave me a practically new, four drawer, legal size, filing cabinet (be still my heart) that sits neatly tucked in my closet supply area with my printer happily sitting on top of it. My new and huge teak topped desk has 2 legal size hanging folder drawers so that I can keep pertinent and current project folders right here at my fingertips. It's so funny the little things in life that can absolutely thrill you. Big happy sigh. I'll stop in at the home building store this morning after our walk because I also want a giant cork board (3'x6') - an inspiration board. I was going to hang it on the wall but have decided instead to hang it on the inside of my supply closet door - a door that I keep open always and that is in plain view if I glance up from work. A place to visualize my dreams and goals.

Then later in the day yesterday I worked in my back garden (photos to come)... cleaning and tidying, weeding and adding manure, compost & mulch to my little garden beds. I really just put a very small, teeny dent in all that needs to be done out there, out in the gigantic yard, garden and jungle that is my property ... but never the less it is a dent and a noticeable dent at that. And while I worked in the garden Winnie Dixon, on the other side of the green wire fence, in her big dog yard, worked on her own giant excavation ... a project she and Jake began last summer - a very big hole just outside the sun porch door. A hole she likes to tuck things away in, special toys and rawhide bones. Winnie digs, of course, with her front paws and covers and buries these special things with her nose and she gets so dirty - her sweet little shaggy face and button black nose become completely covered with dirt.

At this moment in time ... I'm feeling very happy & very contented.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

pink tulips

Blue, blue sky outside my office window. The sun is up and shining on a harbour that is as still as glass. Oliver's curled up in a kitten ball, asleep on his pillow bed in the wide window sill, grackles chatter outside in the trees and Winnie Dixon's asleep in her bed under my desk, asleep with one eye open and watching ... and waiting patiently for me to make a move. A move to get dressed, to get going, to get in our car and drive the 5 minute drive to our heavenly place ... and to begin our day. A Cat Stevens song plays on the radio and the pink tulips picked yesterday from my garden are beautiful. Sunday.

frugal girl goes shopping

Saturday, May 24, 2008

one afternoon walk earlier in the week

It's been mostly cold and rainy. We haven't had much sunshine this week but when we did Winnie and I were out walking. We walked by these pastures that are becoming green under the blue, blue skies which were dotted with white, cotton ball clouds.

Frugal girl went shopping yesterday downtown in my tiny seaside village. I was in desperate need of cuticle cream. I'm afraid I'm a bit of a biter and a picker and a former nail biter. My cuticles very easily turn into a dry, flaky hangnail-ish mess. My favourite product for years and years was Revlon Cuticle Massage Cream (5.00 at most pharmacies) which I've recently discovered (after hunting in town all over to no avail and eventually googling it) has been discontinued. Someone is selling a jar on ebay for 24.00 - it is that great. But frugal girl is not paying 24.00. So ... I was out to find the next best thing.

I remembered that our pharmacy has a Burt's Bees product display and they have a Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. A little more googling and a little more research - and I found good reviews of this product all around. I decided I was going to treat myself and try it.

An 18g tin of Cuticle Cream was 8.99 at my drugstore but I could also buy an entire little kit of both samples sizes (containing a half size 8.5g Cuticle Cream), full size products (tinted & shimmer lip balms) and a sweet little cosmetic bag covered with bees all for 19.99. The lip balms alone retail for 4.99 each. And who doesn't love little sample sizes. This way I could try the cuticle cream, you can never have too many lip balms, try the other products and have a sweet little bag to put stuff in. Sold. Well the cuticle cream is just OK - it doesn't hold a candle to the discontinued Revlon stuff - it was an incredible product ... two or three nights religiously putting it on my fingertips and that dry messy skin around my fingernails magically became as soft as a babies bum. Maybe I should pay the 24.00 on ebay.

I also stopped into the new ice cream parlour, two doors away from my house and across from the park that edges our harbour. Just to check it out, to say hello and introduce myself as I suspect I may be a fairly regular customer. 32 flavours of hard ice cream, the full menu of sundaes, slushies, flurries, banana splits, dipped soft ice cream and Jennifer can dip hard ice cream, apparently a rare and unusual talent. And if you get a double scoop she can dip each scoop in a different crackly hard coating. So ... technically you could have a double scoop, the bottom scoop say ... Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch ice cream dipped in caramel coating topped with another scoop say of .... Toasted Marshmallow ice cream dipped in chocolate fudge coating ... You know that hard coating on ice cream that when you bite into it cracks and big slabs of it come off and melt in your mouth ... I'm not even sure that I would ever order such a cone, but comforting to know that I could. Wow ! be still my heart. Smile.

more good things

Friday, May 23, 2008

a sweet Noodle dog silhouetted by early morning sunshine

Jake at the bend in the Grassy Lane, also known as the Bunny Trail because the rabbits love to come out of the woods and enjoy this sweet green grass. How I love this secret place that I walk at twice a day. I love everything about it ... the smell, the quiet, the sounds - of only birds and insects, dairy cows in summer and the occasional boat entering the harbour. I love the grass and the rocks. The sand and the water. The pastures that roll on forever and all the happy incredible memories of being here with my canine pack of three - when Emma Jane Louise and Jake were still here with Winn & I. We've been walking here for over 13 years. It is heaven on earth and I am so lucky that I get to enjoy this place every single day.

Good Thursday things ...

I mowed my lawn (phew ! ... done again for another 7 days).

And I spoke with my neighbours - I realized that any criticism of me and my efforts to keep my yard neat and tidy lives only in my head. My neighbours are nothing but kind and supportive ... and I am paranoid ... not that that's a big surprise. Smile.

Lots of great satisfying design projects on the go ... always helps to make me feel happy & content.

We had our first thunder and lightening storm of the season. Heavy rain showers fell on hot late in the day pavement. Steamy dampness on freshly mowed grass ... the air smelled amazing. Miss Dixon however, does not share my enthusiasm for thunder and must remain glued to my side for the duration, which is fine by me.

I made a half batch of these double chocolate cookies last evening. I used milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet chunks. They're little blobs of deep dark chocolate brownie like cookies with melty bits of sweet milk chocolate inside. Yum and more than satisfied a craving I was having.

mad pats & deep purrs

Thursday, May 22, 2008

hey, there's my girl winnie dixon

I'm tired this morning ... and feeling a little low. That's how it goes though - up, down and round about ... rarely settling into one frame of mind for any great length of time. The flip side is ... who knows, I could feel elated in an hour or so. Life really is just like a box of chocolates. I can't believe I said that ... I did not like that movie at all ... an American fairy tale.

I can't believe tomorrow is Friday again. I have 2 design projects on the go ... one that must finish up by end of day tomorrow and another just beginning. I still have yet to get my office completely set up again, filing organized, reference books, art supplies etc... I'd like to have one whole morning (a good CBC radio morning) and tackle that job.

My next big house project is to paint my big sunny upstairs hallway - which I plan to turn into a library space. I'll move my 4 existing crappy old white Ikea bookcases upstairs (a fresh coat of creamy white glossy paint hopefully giving them more of a vintage feel) and I'll organize my books in some fashion, by subject most likely. I've decided to paint the walls that pale, pale not white, not blue, not green, not grey - kind of like air would be, if air were a colour - colour. Cream trim and shiny chocolate black floors. By the end of June would be nice. * that appears to be a reasonable goal.

Second big cup of java and big fat Bleet has arrived up on my desk, it's an every morning ritual of mad pats and deep purrs. He insists on going outside at 5:10 sharp to scoot around the yard for 15 minutes, even less if one of our neighbourhood strays are nearby, he's a big scaredy cat. When he comes back inside it's like he's been gone for days ... surely I must have missed him tremendously, and surely I must need to spend some quality time adoring him. He's a funny cat.

* goals that are time sensitive must always be taken with a big ol' grain of coarse sea salt


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The light coming in my studio windows is incredible, the riot of colours from the bouquet of tulips and my ever present, cheery window sill gerberas is explosive against the neutral palette that I've chosen for the room. Deep taupe brown walls, creamy white trim, and deep chocolate black floors.

This is the first week (the 17th week) since the death of my soul mate dog Jake that I have had days and days, it seems, without any aching sadness. I've walked on the beach many times with Miss Dixon by my side and no tears come with us. Of course typing these words will make me cry. When we get to the beach I always talk to him. He was the beach. I say hey Noodle, how ya doin', we miss you. He was the love of my life ... that dog. That big, goofy, handsome and always kind and gentle, big red dog. I sometimes forget that he's gone, for fleeting moments I'll think to myself I wonder what Noodle's up to and I must go find him and tell him how much I love him ... and then I'll remember that he's not here anymore, he's up in the clouds and in my heart. He's filled my heart. It's a relief to feel like I'm finally getting over losing him, that the memories of the end are finally fading. I'm getting over having to make the inescapable decision to end his life, to decide that it was time. To love that much is incredible and ... almost frightening.

I've been really busy with lots of assigned design work which thankfully keeps the busy mind that lives in my head preoccupied. I have many new personal creative projects brewing up there as well. Plus my new blog venture to sell this house, to sell 29 Black Street ... and of course all my many home and garden reno projects (which live in my head and mostly get planned to the most minute detail and ruminated on endlessly and ever so occasionally do actually become realized), and fitting in my favourite things - like cooking and reading and sitting in a chair in the backyard staring endlessly at the birds at the feeders while drinking a big glass of ice tea with lemon, or sloshing around exploring tide pools avec my girl Winn, lying on my back at the end of the grassy lane, beside the big pasture that borders the back shore, staring up at the blue sky and whispering thank you ... my life seems full at the moment. Full of promise.



Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This morning. Bubbles with orange and patchouli. A gang of crows nearby are making a loud ruckus and are obviously not happy about something. Coffee.
And silence otherwise.

Do without doing,
and everything gets done

Buddhist proverb

... ya gotta love those darn Buddhist proverbs. Smile.

warm rain and holidays

Monday, May 19, 2008

a tiny spider guest keeping me company at my desk

It's a holiday, of sorts, here today - it's Victoria Day. The day of the year that this little village turns from sleepy to summer. We become a sort of Cape Cod of the North. The village is a buzz suddenly, as all the summer folk return to open up their cottages and summer homes. The grocery store parking lot is overflowing ... and now with expensive shiny new cars (not the usual assortment of ginormous new pick up trucks, economy cars and old beater's- like our old wagon).

There's a ship coming in as I type this and it's so quiet that I can hear the men on deck talking as they maneuver the big boat into our little harbour.

It's not a holiday for me today, but that's totally OK, because in many ways I don't feel like what I do is work and I never really feel like I need a holiday. And to me a holiday is best spent walking the streets, exploring some big city, somewhere - maybe Paris or New York (my two favourites currently). A big urban fix is a holiday for me, getting all jacked up with big city stimulation - heaven and which, I must say, is way long overdue.

I love what I do for a living and it never really feels like work ... which is so fantastic ! I never think about holidays and this week I have a project (the mystery home decor-ish product design) that is nearing the end, and that I would dearly love to wrap up so that I can move onto something new. I do want to have some new things in my Etsy shop by end of June ... that's a firm goal of mine. At least 4 things. And there's always the endless list of house and garden things to be taken care of ... lots to do always.

Rain gently falling and peepers ... the sounds of this early Monday morning. I love rainy days. You know how sometimes someone will ask a question like if you were a colour, what colour would you be ? Well if I was a type of weather ... I'd most definitely be a rainy day. A warm, still, rainy day.

* and finally, the last call for interested swappers. Swap a package of 14 things with someone. Check here to see details of my first swap with Pherenike in New Zealand. It was great fun ! If you're interested please comment today or send me an email.So far Anya and Austen @ Stripey Pebble have signed up.

thank you Universe ... for peace and serenity and abating sadness.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bleet ness

Nessie... my big, beautiful, black velvet chiclet cat. He will be 10 in February. He's a Pisces and he's convinced he's a dog because he was reared by retrievers. Jake was Bleet's Mama. He's been really good with the boy's Gussie & Oliver- never hissed or growled at them once. When he comes inside from one of his daily ad-ventures outside Gus and Oliver always run to him and sniff him from top to bottom. He has the loudest and maddest purr ever. He loves to prowl around outside. He's afraid of everything. He loves to sleep on my chest when I'm lying in my bed, all 27lbs of him, tucked in near my chin so that it's virtually impossible to watch TV or to read ... all I can really do is ... adore him with mad pats and rubs under his chin. Smile.

I had a very good day yesterday. Accomplished many things on the ever lengthy to-do list. I had a long telephone chat with my Aunt Sally and we talked about lobster rolls, corn chowder, fresh asparagus and breaded scallops done in the oven. She and I both love to cook ... so food is often a hot topic. And ....

Shut up ! I finally cleaned and organized the infamous laundry room tools, painting supplies, etc cabinet. How satisfying was that, and by doing so totally freed up another smaller cabinet with shelves which will become my kitchen pantry. Found I have enough paint stirring sticks to build a small shed (no big deal) and I'll never have to buy brushes or foam paint roller attachments again in my lifetime. Sigh, but a good sigh.

Cleaned and swept my sunporch (where I store nearly 4 cords of wood through the fall and winter). Made Winnie's dog food - chicken, brown rice, lentils, broth and carrots. Made a chick pea, tons of veggies and rice curry dish pour moi, I patched my favourite pair of jeans and watched this previously taped gripping PBS Frontline documentary about a killer storm on Mt Everest. I love my PBS and you can watch all of these documentaries online.

Also ... I set up another blog - 29 Black Street 4 Sale - uh huh ! call me crazy, and maybe I am ... but I'm going to spend from now until next spring (10 months) documenting this house and property with the intentions of selling. At the very least it feels like this exercise will help propel me forward in my efforts to declutter and fix up the place, plus allow me to focus and highlight, avec photos, all the many, many great things about this house, garden and surrounding area. It really is an amazing house and large (more than double lot) property - on a quiet street and it's so close to the harbour ... it just needs an owner with a much bigger bank account than mine.

So ... who knows what today may bring. I'm aiming for another day like yesterday ... but I'm also totally aware that with me, I have to take what comes ... and I just never know for sure what's comin'.

Thank you to my ever present gang of supportive "commenters", who help me stay motivated and positive much more than they'll ever realize.
Merci ... mon amis

good things

Saturday, May 17, 2008

more tulips

I'm up an hour earlier than usual. My coffee was ready at 4:10am. I woke up from a dream to the smell of freshly brewed java. This happens quite often, when setting my coffee maker's timer last night I accidently hit the hour button, putting the time and hour into the future by one. Oh well. I like getting up.

some good things ...

I don't have to mow my lawn again for 5 days

The harbour this morning is completely covered in fog and the fog has crept up and into my yard. The sounds of birds and lobster boats trailing out into the Strait are the only sounds of our early morning.

My 20 year old nephew Michael called me Thursday at 5pm ... I called him back as I have a free long distance plan. We talked for 88 minutes and even then we only hung up because I convinced him to go to the grocery store to pick up some Shake & Bake, fresh chicken and french fries. He was going to put a package of frozen chicken breasts in a frying pan, as is, and cook them for his supper ... he'd cooked chicken that way before. He'd never had Shake & Bake. It's not something I ever buy because I love to cook ... I do believe that Shake & Bake is an easy way to make chicken tasty for someone who hates to cook. I also convinced him to leave his frozen chicken in the freezer and buy a package of fresh chicken for his supper. He seemed very excited at the prospects of a tasty supper... and he rushed off to the nearby grocery store. Smile. He's going into his third year of a business degree at Memorial U. in St. John's Newfoundland. I love that he likes to chat to his Auntie for hours on end ... and I love that he and I talk about everything. He's a deep thinking kid ... and very philosophical about life.

An ice cream parlour opened up yesterday across from the park that borders our little harbour at the end of Black Street. A big old historic brick building that had been empty and unused for ages now has happy tenants. It's 2 doors down from me. Perfect.

There are so many new things blooming in my garden. So many great things to photograph. Thank goodness for super macro, lots of great natural light and shallow depth of field ... my favourites.

It's finally warm enough that I can leave the windows open all the time.

My work has been steady with lots of interesting projects.

Thank you Universe.

a tiny life

Friday, May 16, 2008

tulips -polaroid

This photograph was taken early last evening. I have a stash of Polaroid film, an entire case of it actually, living in my fridge, that I purchased ages ago and well before any news of Polaroid film being discontinued forever. Lucky me. Polaroid film much like a crack cocaine for lovers of photography - try to take just one or two photos after you've loaded the film pack containing only 10 shots.

Yesterday I kept thinking about that line from Shakespeare "to thine own self be true" and that thought arriving in my brain as a cumulative kind of thought, resulting from the seemingly endless recent reevaluation of my life. My needs, my wants, my dreams, my dislikes, my passions ... and what I can afford.

I'll admit when I bought this old house 15 years ago I had giant fantasies, Martha Stewart kind of fantasies of who I was, who I wanted to be, who I was going to craft myself into. I was going to be that super woman kinda girl. With a tool kit and a gardening shed, she could strip wallpaper, paint rooms, patch holes in walls, drive a tiller, mow lawns and cart around a giant gas powered whipper snipper. And work at a full time job and she'd do this all by herself. Well, never completely alone - always with a loving & supportive gang of cats and dogs keeping her company.

Lately it feels like I've just woken up from a dream and I'm looking around at my life and I'm thinking - I am not that super woman kinda girl, I never will be and actually I don't even want to be her anymore. Oh I might have been her for a few moments or days, here and there over the last 15 years but she' s gone now, she moved out awhile ago. I want simplicity, I want a life that's manageable. A life that feels like it's mine. That doesn't always feel like an in box stacked with a teetering pile of things to attend to. I love my work, how fantastic is that ? I'm just beginning year 7 of Susan Black Design and I could sit at my desk for hours on end, happily working away while listening to my beloved CBC radio. I feel strongly that I've only tapped into the tip of that ice burg as far as my creative abilities go. I want and need to spend my time growing my business, teaching myself new things, feeling stimulated and alive and stress free. Sigh.

I need to sell this house ... it really is that simple. That will be step one (and that is a big step). Step two ... where will I move to ? where can I afford to live ? where would I like to live ? Wow... so much to think about. Believe me it's all terrifying and exciting. My life is changing ... big time.

Hey Universe ... I'd like a tiny life please... a tiny life with a big giant heart.

Bleetness with his mama dog Jake

Hey handsome, we love you and we miss you so much ....


Thursday, May 15, 2008

la beast rouge

My pal Red came home yesterday from the lawn mower repair shop. All tuned up, sharpened, freshly oiled and ready to go. Oh Happy Day ! (thick with sarcasm) My neighbours (all retired I might add) their raison d'etre appearing to be lawn and garden care, have been out daily meticulizing their own grass, the grass that borders my yard ... and I've been feeling the seasonal pressure, the keepin' up with the Jones pressure of living in a village surrounded by lawn fanatics. Lately the sound of a mower starting up nearby has been much like fingernails on a blackboard to me, another reminder that every sunshiny moment my grass, my lawn, was getting longer and longer and me with a mower in the shop and no yard man to be found. *#$%!!*&!!

I kid, I try to make light of the situation ... what other choice do I have. While pushing la beast rouge around my front yard last night, it roaring and spewing and occasionally clunking over some stick or foreign object causing me to jump with a start while dearly hanging onto the handle and power mechanism, heaven forbid it quit on me and I have to restart it, yanking on the start cord my least favourite part (that is least favourite after the actual pushing of the lawn mower around for an hour or more). You know when you've primed it properly by pushing in that funny little rubber button while diligently counting to 8 or 10 as Arnold instructed (lawn mower repair man) and then you yank on the cord - and nothing - and you yank again and nothing - then you yank some more and you feel like a fool out there just yanking for nothin' ... anyway, it occurred to me while I was pushing the loud red thing around my yard ... that maybe I should just let go ...

of the handle ... let the motor die ... lie down in the grass and look up at the blue, blue sky, feel the gentle breeze coming from the harbour ... and just lie there. Stay there. Maybe someone would eventually come and get me, and take me away ... away from all of this responsibility, duty, and chores, away to a sweet historic bed sit somewhere, somewhere with a movie theatre, a library and Chinese food. Just me and my gang of animals, the nest of down & flannel, my big teak topped desk and my new 24" imac ... and I'll spend my days drawing and designing, creating lovely things, cooking and reading and ...

... and I will live happily ever after. Sigh !

A hilarious post A Girl's Guide to Mowing by Brin over at Messing Thrilling Life



Wednesday, May 14, 2008

orange and pink grapefruit supremes

Another great day of productivity at the design desk. At the new big, giant, teak topped design desk. My new 24" Apple imac sits in all it's glory like a big flat screen TV, a monument to excess and buyers regret (at this point) and I have yet to bond with it - I'm still very attached to my tiny (by comparison) titanium lap top. I'm dreading the transferring of files, and what about my email account, my email currently is running through Entourage (microsoft) not through Apple Mail (the email program that comes with my mac). I bought this lap top 4 years ago from an unauthorized mac whiz guy in a back alley (I kid, kind of) who loaded it up with stuff customized just for me. He felt Entourage was a superior email program. yada yada yada. All this to say ... I need to get used to the new beast on my desk.

I've diagnosed myself with Neophobia - a Fear of New Things: An irrational fear of anything new, of innovation, of new situations, places, or things. In animal behavior, neophobia refers to the tendency of an animal to avoid or retreat from an unfamiliar object or situation. Yup ! That's what I'm talking about !

Newness is often a hurdle for me. Driving to a place I've never driven before can paralyze me, even though I know that once I do it that first time I'll be fine. I know that once my current drawing deadline is over and I have a little extra time I'll call my whiz kid nephew Michael - on Skype (a mac genius) and get him to walk me through the process of changing over to the new beast. And I know that once I get used to it ... I'll be all Like Wow ! how did ever live without you, you big, beautiful, giant, flat screen computer. In the meantime I'll just continue to look at it sitting on my big, beautiful teak topped desk, beside my sweet little silver lap top ...with awe and mild regret.

And how easy is it to cut your citrus fruits into supremes ? ? Easy ! Sigh, the small things in life that thrill. Something I've never done before but something that has continued to occupy a small space in my brain. A little - I should try supreme segmenting an orange one day has been living up there for quite some time. I finally tried it, it's SO easy, and the results are tres pleasing and very satisfying ... and not to mention beautiful to look at. Perfect for salads or just eating as is ... while feeling spoiled and decadent.

perfect ness

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

sweet Oliver, forsythia and the setting sun

Oliver kept me company all day yesterday, have I mentioned that he is the sweetest cat ever. He's incredibly affectionate, silly and very funny, occasionally bad as can be in that preteen boy kinda way. Devilish and mischievous. And he and Gussie have a bed on the deep window sill of my office. Mr Aloof (Gus) occasionally joins us but I can count on Oliver to always be nearby just in case I might need him to help me with something or just to sit there all handsome and regal looking in his Buddha boy trance.

What a difference a day can make. Yesterday was a very good day. A day spent happily drawing into the evening at my new big desk. I washed sheets and pillowcase and duvets and hung them on the line. Yesterday was breezy and sunny and much warmer. At 7pm or so the garage called to tell me that our wagon was fixed and ready to go home so Miss Dixon and I walked up Black Street in the other direction and picked up our car. I made up my bed with cotton and flannel fresh from the line with lots of enthusiastic bed making help from the boys, Oliver & Gus. I fell asleep watching Antique's Roadshow and I slept like a dream ... last night. Perfect ness trumps blah ness.

blah ness

Monday, May 12, 2008

sea and sky and my dear Noodlette

I love when the sky and the sea magically become one.
And I love her Miss Winnie Dixon.

Blah. Blah weekend, especially Sunday. It was one of those days that I just didn't ever seem to get going. It was raining and cold and after our wet morning walk all I wanted to do was to stay in the nest of down and flannel, hiding away from everything.

I didn't do that, but I might as well have as I accomplished little else ... a few futile attempts at drawing and at housework but very little actual productivity. And I found myself in the early evening, remote control in hand completely mesmerized by a mother's day marathon of John & Kate Plus 8 - a stack of great new books from the library piled by my bed and I'm hooked on life with two sets of multiples - weird ! A sad and very bleak kind of Sunday. My cable TV ends at the end of the month. I'm both terrified and relieved at the prospects of no television (without a cable connection I get 0 channels). I'll save nearly $40.00 per month which I've decided to put toward a lawn mowing yard man - yeah ! yeah ! that's me skipping around my temporary office/guest room. Now if I can just find said yard man. Good help is hard to find ... and actually around here it's been my experience that of any kind is near impossible to find ... but I am determined !

Rather than beat myself up about the blah state of my weekend (as I'm well practiced at) I'm going to call it a sick day(s), of which thankfully I never have to take or I may chalk it up to my hormones being out of whack or something. I'm determined this morning to catch up with my work schedule and turn the weekend's slacker mode around. Sigh. It's another darn Monday.

14 things - part 2

Sunday, May 11, 2008

received and finally documented

What a fun project this 14 things was - to gather up, to create and to give, to send out over the oceans to the other side of the world, off to New Zealand in my case. And the bonus is I received 14 things from Pherenike at Sunshine Dew and I've finally had a chance to properly photograph and document my package of things unwrapped.

1. a beachy thing, a paua shell
2. a papery thing, the big fat Wellington weekend paper which arrived separately
3. a thing that cost less than $1, a beautiful Indian goddess with tiger card
4. a yellow thing, a yellow beeswax candle
5. something found in the back of a drawer, a tiny spiral bound notebook
6. something starting with the first initial of your middle name, the letter "I" International food, which Wellington has lots of - a bag of peanuts from an Asian grocery store. I love the packaging
7. something that once was alive - a lacy beautiful leaf skeleton which arrived in a decorated match box enclosure
8. a soft thing, a green felt shamrock catnip kitten toy (also arrived earlier) which Gussie & Ver were especially thrilled with and they have hidden it away in their special kitten toy stash.
9. a food item traditional to your area, Marmite have to say I did try it lightly spread on buttered toast and I guess it's an acquired taste. I think it will be lovely added to homemade soup.
10. something that delights you, sweet small vintage bowls, a girl after my own heart who delights in shopping at second hand stores. I love these little bowls.
11. something that once was useful - two New Zealand coins who's denominations have recently been discontinued.
12. favourite candy/chocolate bar, yum a dark chocolate bar with cardamom from Schoc chocolate therapy, the chocolate itself is long gone. Smile.
13. a map of your area, and not only did she include a map but also a walking tour with photo cards of her neighbourhood of Newton, a perfect sense of place.
14. a tea bag of your favourite tea, a bag of Lady Grey tea which I sipped while dreamy of far off beachy lands of New Zealand.

If anyone would like to participate in another swap please leave a comment and your email address and we can pair people randomly, make a new list of 14 things or keep some of the original things ... and do this all over again. It's so wonderful to get a parcel in the mail, it is even better to give than to receive, it's such fun to compose a package and great to get to know the recipient. Any takers ?

And speaking of parcels ... I received an incredible box of goodness Friday from best friend MLou goodies from the Korean grocery store, homemade marshmallows from the Market at the Brewery (how did she know that I LOVE marshmallows and have been hunting for panko bread crumbs to cook with - she's been reading my mind again), and two big, thick, plush white bath sheets (having recently visited here avec moi she was privy to my frugal girl towel situation, a neatly folded pile of dingy and thread bare, formerly white towels which I apologized for) ... she felt I might enjoy a bit of plush lux after my bubbles & scent ... and I am enjoying them immensely!

It's as cold and dark and dreary and rainy as it could possibly be here today. Winnie and I will get bundled up in rain gear and face the elements for a quick stroll around the village so she can enjoy her nose to the ground, dog scent extravaganza walk.

beautiful proudly Canadian postage stamps - no machine printed postage label for we designer types - we love the mini bits of graphic design-ness.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

wood hyacinth and yellow chair

Incredibly fragrant wood hyacinth from my front garden.

Grey, clouds and rain in the forecast but that's OK because we're camped out at the little antique desk with the radio, my favourite red mechanical pencil, kneaded eraser and tissue paper. I'll do a little cooking and a little tidying ... but mostly it's drawing on the weekend schedule.

No car this morning, so Winnie and I will do our in the village and along the outskirts walk in a few minutes.

I watched Into The Wild last night - I've been mentioning for months now to my friend MLou that I wanted to see it. I'd read the book by John Krakauer years ago and remembered enjoying it. She kept cautioning me that maybe I should wait awhile until I felt stronger ... less sad - that it was a difficult movie to watch. Thank goodness that I did wait and I probably could have waited even longer. When the credits finally rolled I felt an overwhelming sadness, the kind of sadness that you feel when you've been incredibly moved by a story ...and this story a true story ... and one that suggests that no matter what ... the only thing that's really important in life is love. Feeling love and accepting love.

Mr. Mr. otherwise known as Gus ... always in the middle of it

wood hyacinth and Art Nouveau cruet

miss him

Friday, May 9, 2008

girlfriend - what would I do without her ? Miss Winnie Dixon

cottages on the other side of the lighthouse point

There is a noticeably cooler breeze blowing in the open window this morning. The sky over the harbour is grey and stormy looking and rain is in the forecast for today. Friday. The day I have been posting a photo and memory of my hero dog Jake who I said goodbye to 15 weeks ago today ... the dog who completely stole my heart many, many years ago. My everything dog and very best friend.

It's funny, it never ever occurs to me that this grief and sadness that I feel is something that must be gotten over. Tucked away or hidden, dealt with ... some end to it in sight. I do know that all of this big and aching sadness is ultimately a tribute to an amazing dog who touched my life in such an all encompassing way that I will never get over saying goodbye to him. My sadness and tears come from a feeling of extreme gratefulness that he managed to find his way into my life and that he lived to be the ripe old age of 13 ... and I miss him so much ... it's that simple. I just ... miss him.

Hot bubbles and scent awaits me ... La Wagon's (97 Ford Escort Wagon) brakes are acting up. I noticed yesterday afternoon as Miss Dixon and I tooled around the village doing a few errands in the rain (post office, library, grocery store). Fortunately my top speed in the village is a crawl ... maybe 30kms, but usually more like 20. I noticed when parking - pas de brakes - or barely any, and my brake light was on. Sigh. Drag ! This morning I will pop the hood and give her a little brake fluid juice (which I proudly know how to do) and hopefully that will give us enough brakes to get to the beach and back (that drive is very quick and practically on back roads) and then I'll drop the car off at our garage to have things checked out.

Drawing, drawing, drawing ... todays to-do list.

9:00 am update - for those of you concerned that I would (foolish & fearless when it comes to my morning beach walk) drive La Wagon without brakes you can breath a sigh of relief. I added brake fluid which did notta, no brakes - well maybe 10% brakes - not enough. I called Fred at the garage who briefly and very clearly explained the whole brake line system (don't you love it when people explain things to you ... I know I do) and he figures that there's a leak somewhere in my brake line. So ... I put Miss Dixon in the car and off we went. Creeping along, around the back way, to the garage which is only minutes away from 29 Black St. and I dropped off the car. Miss Dixon and I had a big long village walk and then along the harbour and to another small in-the-village beach, past the tiny old cemetery (which I must photograph one day soon) and finally by a large marshy area where the Peepers live. We saw three red winged blackbirds (actually we heard them first as they have a very distinct and unusual song). Red wing blackbird in Animal Medicine means omens and mysticism (read more here) and are associated with the astrological sign Cancer - which would be me ! Another sign from the universe ... to pay attention to.

my temporary office digs avec my constant companion - love her !


Thursday, May 8, 2008

retriever heaven - perfect stick fetching conditions

Yesterday morning when Winn and I arrived at the beach for our early morning walk it was warm and perfectly still. When we got to the lighthouse and the top of the first red clay cliff and looked down onto the beach, the water was as smooth as glass, and all I could think about was Jake. Such a perfect morning for stick fetching, how can it be that our beautiful spring beach weather has finally arrived and he's no longer here with us. Most mornings when I first step onto the beach I feel sad, I usually have a good cry as we walk along that first beach and lately most mornings it's just Winn and I and I'm free to be as sad as I like, to cry as long and as hard as I need to. It's my grief ... and it needs to be felt, unfettered.

I heard a piece on CBC radio the other morning on grief and how people who've lost someone crave keeping them alive through words and conversation. They want to say their name out loud and to someone, they want to remember them, again and again ... because they still can't believe they're gone. Most people stopped long ago mentioning him to me, if they ever broached the subject at all. Grief and sadness feels very taboo. I'm lucky though, I have two friends who understand how deep my sadness is, who know how incredibly big my love is and was for that dog. That I need to occasionally talk about him and how much I miss him still. I am so thankful also for this blog, that I have a place where Jake lives on in a big and bold way. Just like his big and bold red self.

So yesterday was tinged all day with sadness and by evening, compounded by a level of frustration I was feeling with my production drawing pace, I had a bit of a meltdown. I went back and read the month of January from the archives of this blog. The month of Jake's decline and death. I believe that all of this terrible aching sadness must come out of me and certainly reading through those days of January and looking at all the photos of his handsome self had me sobbing, almost uncontrollably...

Outside my makeshift office (guest room) window the sky had turned black and stormy, and a sudden and intense downpour of rain had soaked everything. But I could see blue sky and bits of sunshine so I washed my face and grabbed my girl Miss Dixon and said to her "Lets get outta here". She and I walked down into the park, along the harbour's edge, and the sky and clouds were beautiful, some clouds big, fluffy and pure white and others stormy grey and ominous. I stood at the waters edge looking up at the sky and out into the harbour and I breathed in deeply. Miss Dixon was already spellbound by her aroma investigations and paying no heed to me at all- off in her own little world of enticing dog smells. It was quiet and peaceful and beautiful. Quite suddenly a crow in a tree behind me made a loud cawing ruckus and I turned around with a start. And there in the sky, glowing bright against the dark storm clouds was a big beautiful rainbow ... I wouldn't have noticed it if the crow hadn't spoken, I wouldn't have turned around ... and I know without a doubt that the rainbow was meant for me, it was a message from my boy ... to not be so sad, to let me know that's he's OK and to remind me that he will always be with me.
I love ya Noodle.

should say "we" heart Jake ... and check out the front paws. smile.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

one red daisy

Peepers and lobster boats, fog in the harbour, bubbles with patchouli and orange and a big mug of coffee - my early morning here at 29 Black Street.

A near perfect day yesterday ... steady productivity, another afternoon walk in warm sunshine on sand bars and through tide pools with my girl Miss Dixon. Back to the desk for another few evening hours of drawing & details and then a happy sound sleep.

It definitely was a day of moments ... the best kind. A day that blows by you gently and with ease. One moment melting into the next until the sky outside my window had turned orange and the sun, over our little harbour, had begun to dip below the horizon. The kind of day I wish for all my days to be and I believe a sign of things to come ... of peace and happiness ... of unabated creativity ... and near constant contentment. All worries and frets and sadness dissolving and falling away. Sigh.

I am very grateful for the peace and serenity that surrounds me every day and of the joy and love my family of animals (unconditionally as always) give to me in all of their moments.

another photo of new studio - blue black first coat on floors


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

still life with sweet Oliver, daffodils and new studio. smile

note the lovely deep window sills - perfect for kittens

These photos were taken after the first coat of black fast-drying latex paint was on the new studio floor. That Oliver, ham that he is, loves to find himself in any and all photos. I almost can't believe it when I peek into this room to check on the still slightly tacky, deep chocolaty black enamel, second coat of floor paint and actually last night I noticed a few spots that needed touching up - which I promptly did - more drying time but ... It must to be perfect and it's going to be ! A place that I can happily spend most of my time ... me, my best gal pal Miss Winnie Dixon (she has a most comfy bed under my desk) assorted feline visitors throughout each day and my much loved CBC radio - happy as a clam ... and a very creative clam at that.

In the mean time I'm happily ensconced at a little antique desk that belonged to my grandmother Blanche, in my guest room and in the midst of the second & final stage of a big home decor-ish project. The first stage of this particular project required a lot of research and reference material as the 5 pieces in the collection all were based on a specific historical style. For each of the 5 styles I drew a minimum of 4, very tight, 50% actual size, thumbnail concepts for my customer to choose from. She has picked the final designs, with very minimal changes and tweaks (a pat on my own back) and has now given me the final direction. My job this week is to turn these thumbnail concepts into actual size production drawings - the drawings that the factories will use to actually produce these pieces. It's the not-fun part, the part of a job that any designer likes the least, however it's a necessary evil and one that must be done and done with care and accuracy. My habit is to put myself in a trance like groove of production drawing-ness and thank goodness for good talk radio or an audio book on CD from the library.

I'm on a deadline, these 5 drawings must be done by Friday and I have my work cut out for me so Les Nouveau Studio must wait until I am free to do the proper installation on very dry, cured, shiny chocolate black floors. Smile.

14 things wrapped in tissue with little typed notes, details and descriptions just out of the box. Actually it's 12 things - 2 things arrived separately. 1. A papery thing - the big fat weekend Wellington paper arrived a few weeks ago and I loved receiving that - perfect! and 2. A soft thing - a felt catnip stuffed shamrock arrived ages ago and Oliver & Gus have hidden it in that special place that they like to hide their kitten toys.

Stay tuned for 3-14 things revealed soon ...

12 of 14 things just out of the box ... all the way from New Zealand